Monday, January 31, 2011

Reconciling and Applying Grace

In today's world, how do we reconcile the many meanings of the word "grace?"  To most people, grace is a physical trait, an attractive attribute, or possibly a personality trait of a merciful person.
To me, having been raised in a Christian home in the Bible Belt, my inner answer to "what is Grace?" always involved God.  I saw a definition recently something to the effect of, "God's love for undeserving people," and that's probably closest to what comes to mind for me. 
The definitions are really all intertwined, depending on how technical you want to get, I suppose.  A person can be merciful and full of grace without being physically graceful or elegant.  Grace or good will can exist between persons who claim no interaction with God.  Christians who claim God's grace, may not be so kind or merciful in day to day life.  But still, the underlying meaning of grace, is the same isn't it?
Look up grace on and notice the tone of each definition...words like elegance, pleasing, favor, clemency, mercy; all are positive attributes.
Many definitions state or indicate that grace is freely given or given even when undeserved (cross-reference definition of mercy).
So my point here is, how do we get a grasp on grace? If this is something I aspire to, and hopefully others do as well, we must know how to obtain it.  How do you obtain something you can't touch? And how do you know when you've gotten there?
I have a no means a definitive answer...just a theory.  I think it is sort of like having a conscience.  We all make choices daily; we choose our words and our actions, sometimes carefully and sometimes hastily.  Either way, we get that "gut feeling" when we chose wrong, don't we?  I'm suggesting that maybe grace is what results when we respond to any situation with a pleasing tone; with kindness, with mercy, regardless of self.   And not just respond this way, but automatically respond this way, putting little thought into what the "right" response is.
Because after all, I think grace is self-less. Our human natures tend to look out for self, give a little while still holding on, extend grace as a reciprocation rather than an upfront offering.  I think if we want to exude grace, we have to let go of self first.  I'll be the first to admit, I haven't a clue how to really do that!
Still I am trying to grasp grace and apply it daily.
Some days I think extending grace to others means keeping my mouth shut! Some days it might mean listening with out trying to "fix it."  Some days it might mean forgiving even when it seems foolish to do so.
What do you think grace means? What does it feel like? Do you have it in your spirit and do you share it with others?
Please share and thanks for reading my ramblings!

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